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Friday, May 23, 2014

Quoted in current issue of Pittsburgh Quarterly

I'm quoted in this article in the current edition of Pittsburgh Quarterly. The story by Seamus McGraw discusses the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's decision on Act 13, and its implications for another lawsuit filed by the Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation that challenges existing and proposed leasing of the state's public lands for natural gas drilling and diversion of funds away from conservation of those lands.

The article, and PEDF's filings in the case, make - at least - for interesting reading for anyone concerned about Penn's Woods, our constitutional rights, the public trust, and the future of our state. 

Which should be everyone.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

EIA: Marcellus production huge, growing, sustained

Production of natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation reached 18% of the nation’s production in December, 2013. And it will keep rising for another ten years or so, and be sustained at high levels for decades, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2014 says natgas production will grow 163% from current levels:
dry gas production in the Marcellus shale play, which predominantly serves the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions, grows from 1.9 Tcf in 2012 to 5.0 Tcf in 2022…before declining to 4.6 Tcf in 2040...
 The Outlook says:
Historically, natural gas produced in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and the offshore Gulf of Mexico has been transported to markets east of the Mississippi River.  In addition, significant volumes of natural gas have been transported to Canada and the Rocky Mountains to serve the same markets.  However, the advent of large-scale natural gas production in the Marcellus shale formation, located in Appalachia, will alter natural gas transportation patterns east of the Mississippi river.
In the AEO2014 Reference Case, natural gas production from the Marcellus shale grows from 1.9 Tcf in 2012 to a peak production volume of about 5.0 Tcf per year from 2022 through 2025. Marcellus shale gas production could provide up to 39% of the natural gas needed to meet demands in markets east of the Mississippi River during that period – up from 16% in 2012.  Although Marcellus gas production declines after 2024 in the reference case, it still provides enough natural gas to meet at least 31% of the region’s total demand for natural gas through 2040.
Marcellus natural gas exceeds 100% of the demand projected for the New England and Mid-Atlantic Census Divisions from 2016-2040 in the reference case, requiring transportation of some Marcellus gas to other markets.  During the expected peak production period from the Marcellus shale, from 2022 through 2025, its total production exceeds natural gas consumption in the New England and Middle Atlantic regions by more than 1.0 Tcf over the period.
We are still in the early days of the Marcellus play. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Who really benefits from "beneficial reuse"?

This StateImpactPA article reports that: 
the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA) wants the state Department of Environmental Protection to allow companies to reuse drill cuttings – rocks and dirt that are pried loose when a well is drilled – for construction and remediation projects.
Curiously, the article notes that none of PIOGA's member companies have offered samples for analysis. Could this be the reason why?
Drill cuttings can contain naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) and have been known to trigger radioactivity alarms when disposed of at landfills. NORM can become technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive material (TENORM) when materials are mixed together, moved, or otherwise changed.
The story also notes that: 
The DEP is considering a similar permit application from Range Resources. The company wants permission to research using drill cuttings to build new well pads.
I blogged about that bad idea here. 

Allowing hazardous materials to be "stabilized" and used as fill or construction material is euphemistically called "beneficial reuse." But just who do such uses benefit? 

Call me a cynic, but when it comes to materials that set off radioactivity alarms, that can potentially leach radioactivity into the environment, and that otherwise would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste, my guess is that "beneficial reuse" doesn't benefit the environment or public health. Just company bottom lines. 

Shouldn't it be the other way around?